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David Kolb's Experiential Learning Machine

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image of Journal of Phenomenological Psychology

This article is a review of David Kolb's program of work on learning styles and experiential learning, which I find to be a problematic instance of psychologism. I argue that Kolb's approach ignores the process nature of experience and that attractive as it may be instrumentally, it ultimately breaks down under the weight of its structuralist reductions. Kolb attempts to account for experiential learning without a coherent theory of experience, such as might have been found in phenomenology, which he virtually ignores. Thus, Kolb neglects the constitutive effects of the noetic-noemic corelationship and the intentional reality of the person. I contrast Kolb's formulations with John Dewey's much more resilient conception of "habit" and close with a critical analysis of various ways in which Kolb's learning-style instruments are used for aggressive intervention in people's lives.

Affiliations: 1: Sandia Foothills Center for Experiential Learning


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